A group of Brunswick Heads locals made their voices heard on Thursday morning at the Byron Shire Council planning meeting. The group handed the council a petition calling for the rejection of plans to construct a boarding house known as ‘the Corso’ in Bayside next-door to the preschool at 94 Kingsford Drive.
The petition received over 1,000 signatures from locals worried about the affordability, desirability and ultimate viability of the project.
Similar boarding house projects by Byron based developer, the Kollective, have been accused of failing to deliver on their promise of delivering affordable housing for the community.
A previous development at 116 Stuart Street in Mullumbimby had promised to relieve the acute shortage of affordable housing in the area but had left locals surprised when the apartments were advertised between $500 – $600 a week, far greater than the median price for the area.
Annie Radermacher, one of the protesters present at the council meeting says that the government was offloading its responsibilities to provide affordable housing to the private sector without any due diligence.
‘This is meant to be a plan to incentivise the private sector to take over from social housing, but no one really wins here except the developer.
‘They get tax right offs and many regulations waved under the pretence that it is affordable but once they hit the market that is often not the case.’
We need supply
Michael Murray, a property buyers agent at Byron Property Search, likened protesters who opposed such developments as ‘selfish hoarders’ denying the rights of others to own a home in the area as they do.
‘We no longer have a housing crisis here but rather a housing catastrophe,’ he said.
‘Byron Shire has the least medium density lots out of any northern rivers shire. If these people do not like these developments what alternate solution do they recommend?’
Byron Shire has recently been inundated with newcomers from major cities looking to settle in the area making it one of the most desirable areas in the country and leaving many with few options. This has resulted in a strong push from the industry and the government to rapidly boost supply.
Not a local centre
The project was also called out for not satisfying zoning requirements. The plot sits on a B1 zone which requires it to be used for small scale business and community uses to serve the needs of nearby residents.
Residents claim that this responsibility is not met by the proposed boarding house. Speaking passionately to the council chamber, Lisa Sandstrom, another Brunswick local, proclaimed:
‘This is meant to be a local centre that serves the bayside community but all it has is a tiny tokenistic grocer and café. Why doesn’t the Bayside deserve to have a local centre?’
The project developers held a public consultation meeting earlier this year prior to the council DA submission. Their plans show that the development will include a café, grocer, co-working space and six shop top houses along with the boarding house.